As many readers are no doubt aware, a taxi driver and cyclist were involved in an altercation a few days ago which escalated into a fight that ended with the cyclist’s leg being amputated. The driver was charged today with six offenses: criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous operation causing bodily harm, fail to stop at scene of accident causing bodily harm, attempt to obstruct justice, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon. He appears in court tomorrow.
This is a sad story, but one we should all try to keep in perspective. Nearly 25,000 people mount bikes each day in Toronto and most are able to get to their destinations without incident. But it seems once or twice a year there is an altercation of this nature that escalates to more than just yelling between a driver and cyclist. Most cyclists will never be in a situation where their life is being threatened by an irate driver.
While I’m sure many of Toronto’s most dedicated cyclists will see this incident as a symptom of our car-oriented culture, I feel it has less to do with that and more to do with someone who has much greater issues than a hate-on for cyclists. After reading numerous blog posts and comments on this incident over the last few days, I’m concerned that too much energy is being spent raging against this driver instead of using the incident to push for much better cycling infrastructure and awareness. I would assume most cyclists are more concerned with getting doored by cars on roads without bike lanes, since the chances of that happening are much greater than being attacked by a taxi driver. I’m not trying to minimize this awful scene — rather, I’m hoping to put this into a wider perspective on how to approach these isolated incidents.
I’m curious to hear how people think we should view this incident.
photo by Trevor Hunter